The temperature at the Book Lounge went up a couple of degrees on a chilly winter’s night when the second annual Short Sharp Stories Award anthology was launched. Editor and curator of the award, Joanne Hichens, welcomed an impressive number of contributors, quizzing each one in a quick and dirty interview about the short story they had sent into Adults Only: Stories of love, lust, sex and sexuality.
Hichens referred to Bloody Satisfied, the inaugural anthology launched last year, saying, “What else is there once you’ve done crime? You might as well do sex …”
She introducted Kagure Tiffany Mugo, who won the Publishers Choice award, “In your recent column you stated that African women were hot in their own right, not because we’re the offspring of the ‘exotic, erotic native’ from the colonialists’ dreams. We are not ‘motherland beautiful’, we are not mysterious, we are not ‘bizarre in our beauty’. We are just hot.”
She praised her story “Coming into Self-Awareness” about a woman who discovers what she wants and marvelled at the bravery that enabled Mugo to be so sexually explicit.
The next writer, Sean Mayne, received the Judges Choice award, for his story, which provided her with a grand belly-laugh. “It is subtle and clever, very tongue-in-cheek in its use of suspension of disbelief, makes the theatre of the absurd seem totally plausible.” She said “Bring on the Clowns” offered readers the luxury of laughing out loud.
Alex Smith‘s “The Big Toad” was highly commended. Hichens described it as “a fresh and fun fantasy, an imaginative tour de force that proves writing about sex can lead you down any number of different paths.” This “madam and maid” story was loved by the readers for its freshness, fantasy and fun.
“Wamuwi Mbao is a literary writer that challenges the reader,” Hichens said. “I found his story ‘The Ninth Wave’ mesmerising. It was really like riding a wave!” She praised the poetry of the story, reflecting how he turned the tables with an obsessive male character.
A number of stories in Adults Only have no actual sex, but it is suggested rather than made explicit. Hichens pondered the eternal debate as to what makes good sex writing. “For some it’s suggestion, for others, they want to read it on the page. In Ken Barris’ Highly Commended story, ‘Louka in Autumn’, the graphic descriptions happened in relation to scenery, dialogue and reflection. This enhances the poignancy as the protagonist enters the autumn of his life. In this case, the sex is remembered.”
Carla Lever chatted next about ‘Soetkoek Special’, which Hichens said contained enormously evocative language. “The local bakery in the small dorp is not all it seems in this suggestive and humorous story of a business run by an older woman with a naughty streak.”
Hichens said that Eugene Yiga’s funny story ‘Peaked’ guaranteed laughs. “But there is a seriousness about the underlying themes that touch on many issues, as two men at a gay pride march chat it up,” she said.
Chantelle Gray’s completely hard-hitting BDSM fantasy had an extreme edge to it. She described it as possessing a searing sexual need at the core of “The Most Tender Place”. “This is one of the stories that has provoked the most reactions,” she said.
“Dudumalingani Mqombothi’s Highly Commended ‘The Streetwalkers’ is another thought-provoking story, that one might not expect to find in a collection like this. There is a prostitute and a man, a student, trying to find his father in Cape Town. It is a very streetwise and very different exploration of the underlying theme of the absent father, and whether this influences the way women are treated.”
Next in the limelight was Alan Walters, the oldest contributor to the anthology, claims an interesting literary heritage, albeit a somewhat inverted one. The father of Sarah Lotz said he had entered under strict instructions. He had never written a short story before and was thrilled that his first efforts had been included. Hichens said she loved the fact that the Short Sharp Stories competition provides space for all types of writing. “While looking for the literary as well as the commercial you discover a range of authors and voices. Alan Walters’ ‘A Threesome in a New South Africa’ was another story that elicited wildly differing responses, from ‘it’s porn’ to ‘guffaws of pleasure’.”
Efemia Chela, on the the opposite end of the scale, was the youngest contributor: “This Caine-prize nominee wrote ‘Perigee’ that takes us ack to student days, to issues of sexual identity and experimentation. Her story is also a sort of threesome, as well as a search for sexual identity.”
Donvé Lee won the Editor’s Choice’s prize for “The Mirror”. Hichens said this was human, tender narrative brought the eternal questions of body image to the fore. Lee’s intimate story explores ageing. “Your story brought tears to my eyes – and of course brings in the power of photography, the way the photographs of a woman’s body are manipulated on the computer,” said Hichens.
Jo Stielau, a second-time Short Sharp Stories published author, wrote “The Meat in the Crosshairs”, which is a different take on voyeurism. “In this instance, the audience is a therapy group. As the story unfolds, so does Jo Stielau’s wicked sense of humour,” Hichens said.
The evening ended with a reflection on Christine Coates’s Highly Commended work, “The Cat’s Wife”. Hichens said this was, “a jolly romp that refuses to take itself too seriously. The central character comes into her own … what 50 Shades could have been.”
More than a few folks were observed to be fanning themselves discreetly as the steamy content condensed on the book shop’s windows. One could even believe that the pages of the books became a little crinkly from the surplus moisture in the atmosphere!
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Liesl Jobson tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks
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Exclusive Books Rosebank would like to invite you to the Roald Dahl Day Party on Saturday, 13 September, for the relaunch of their children’s section.
The legendary children’s author Roald Dahl was born on 13 September, 1916. Roald Dahl Day promises to be packed with fun activities, party snacks, and story time. There will also be prizes for the best-dressed characters!
Don’t miss out on the fun!
- Date: Saturday, 13 September 2014
- Time: Session 1 at 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Session 2 at 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
- Venue: Exclusive Books Rosebank
Maxi’s – The Mall of Rosebank
Johannesburg | Map
- For more information: Talita van Graan, email@example.com, 011 798 0000
Russell Kaschula, the author of Displaced, will be a keynote speaker at The Reading Association of South Africa’s ninth annual conference this month.
The theme for this year is “Reading the Change: Changing the Reading – Where are we 20 years after 1994?”
Kaschula has written a number of Young Adult novels, as well as short stories for adults. He is a professor of African Language Studies at Rhodes University. His work focuses on multilingual language acquisition and oral and written literature.
For more details about the conference, including accommodation and transport options, visit the Reading Association of South Africa s website.
Professor Edgar Pieterse, one of the editors of Africa’s Urban Revolution, will be speaking at the Green Building Convention on 12 September. The convention is being held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). He will be speaking at 12:15 PM.
Pieterse lectures postgraduate courses in sustainable urban management at the University of Cape Town and is a researcher and director at the African Center for Cities. His work looks at the constant challenges and changes of cities.
An all-access pass to the convention costs R9 735, and the rate for a single day is R2 600. Visit the website for more booking options.